"What is it?" Christian whispered. I couldn't help the small sob that escaped me as I tried to keep myself from falling apart.
"You baby. He wants you." I whispered. Black raised an eyebrow at me and snatched the phone from my hand. Before I could protest he hung up the call and shut the phone off.
"I think that's enough for now." He said giving me a cool glare. I returned his look, trying to gather myself together. I hated that he had seen me cry. Even just a little bit. "Will you please take Mrs. Grey back to her room?" He asked motioning to the massive guard behind me. The huge man leered at me and I felt my fingers curl into a fist. "Oh and please refrain from riling her up. The calmer she stays the easier she will be to deal with." Black said dismissively. I lunged at him, ready to claw his eyes out and the giant's meaty hands wrapped around me. Though I knew he was holding me back from attacking his boss, it didn't stop him from taking advantage of the situation and feeling me up. I turned on him and tried to kick him. He avoided my attempts but glared at me.
"Don't you fucking touch me!" I snarled. Black sighed.
"Put her down Merriman. And remember, hands off." He said darkly. The meathead set me down but kept me at arms distance, giving his boss a silent nod. I turned to look at Black once more before storming out of the room. Meathead followed behind me, making sure I headed in the right direction.
"I want to see my children." I demanded. The meathead ignored me and I turned to glare at him.
"Tell Black I want to see my children." I said again. He just gave me an impassive stare. I turned on my heel and headed in the direction of the dining room when the meathead grabbed me and redirected me to my room.
I never even stood a chance. He was so much taller than me, and so much stronger. He picked me up and carried me easily, despite my constant struggling. He deposited me into my room, and with one last leer, left me alone in the room. I started pacing around, running a hand through my hair and feeling anxious. I needed to know my children were safe, then I could focus on how to keep Christian from Black.
Turning to the room, I started looking for some route of escape. I surveyed the room in great detail, checking under the floorboards, (which led to concrete) and even behind all the furniture. There was nothing.
I stood up from where I had been crawling under the bed and growled in frustration.
The door opened, startling me, and a petite woman with silver streaked brown hair came into the room. She was dressed in a professional and expensive looking skirt and silk top with classic black heels to finish it off. Her hair was perfectly coifed and she gave me a steady look as she came in. She reeked of power and wealth and immediately I knew who she had to be.
"Mrs. Black I am to presume?" I asked standing. She gave me a small tight smile.
"It's good to meet you Mrs. Grey." She said nodding to me. I tried to discretely compose myself as she studied me. She was only slightly taller than me, but that could have been the heel height. She looked to be the same build as me and we even had similar bone structures. I stared back at her, wondering how a woman could stand by and let all this happen around her.
"I imagine you're wondering how I fit into all this." She said coming into the room and settling next to the small table in the room. She motioned for me to join her and I moved over reluctantly, to sit across from her. This seemed to appease her and she nodded.
"Olivia." She called. The door opened and the meek woman who had brought me advil earlier came running in with a tray of tea. She set it on the table and offered to serve us. When Mrs. Black waved her off, the girl ran from the room. "My name is Suzan, but please call me Suzy if you are comfortable with that." She said setting up the teacups so she could serve us.
"What is going on here?" I asked, trying to skip the formalities and games she and her husband both seemed to be so fond of. She gave me a small smile.
"I'm going to be honest with you Ana." She said glancing at me. I bristled a moment but waited for her to continue. "I don't care about you." She said looking up at me. "I don't care about you or about those children out there. I don't care about your husband and I certainly don't care if you all make it out of this alive." She said lightly. "I have one goal and one only. If you can help me achieve that, then I will help you and your family walk away from all of this." She said sliding a cup toward me. Black and weak, just like I liked it. I stared at the cup a moment and tried to compose myself. I had not been ready to hear that.
"What is it you want?" I asked finally. She gave me another small smile.
"It's quite simple Ana. I'm tired, I'm old and I've lost too much. I want it to stop. I want all of it to stop." She said bringing her own teacup to her lips.
"And how is that I can help you with that?" I asked confused. She smiled again.
"First I think I need to explain my relationship with my husband." She said setting her cup down. "I hope you have an open mind about things, or this conversation is going to be incredibly difficult for you." She said staring me dead on. I took a shuddering breath and nodded.
She studied a moment then nodded. "I'm assuming that your openness and understanding about sex extends beyond the closed doors of your bedroom." She said looking at me. I choked on my tea. "Yes I've read the text messages my husband found in your phone. I'm not surprised to be honest. Your husband is after all, the offspring of mine." She said shrugging lightly. I shifted in my seat and she continued. "I was fourteen the first time I met Damian." She said, much to my surprise. "He worked for my father. He was our gardener." She said smiling to herself. "We didn't start dating until I was sixteen. He was just nineteen at the time and of course, everything was in secret. I come from old money, very old money and my father would have hated the relationship if he knew about it." She said shrugging. "That's probably what attracted me to Damian. I knew he wasn't allowed." She chuckled and took another delicate sip of her tea. "It was the night of my eighteenth birthday when we eloped. The trust fund my father had set up for me became available on my birthday and so Damian and I ran off, away from Detroit and headed to Chicago." She explained. "It wasn't long after we were married that I got the call from child services." She said setting her cup down to look at me. "They told me my husband had a child that was suddenly without a mother." The look in her eyes was cold and her words chilled me to the bone. "I told them we wanted nothing to do with it, I even forged his signatures on the paperwork just to make it go away as quickly and quietly as possible. Damian never found out." She said carefully. "For a while everything was wonderful. We lived off my trust fund and were quite comfortable. But soon the money started to run out and neither one of us liked it. I'd grown up in the lap of luxury. I needed money to be happy. Damian, who had grown up with out it, was consumed by the taste he'd gotten. Suddenly what we had wasn't enough for either of us. That's when everything changed." She gave me a steady look and when I nodded to her, she continued. "It was all too easy to fall into the wrong crowd, especially with the personalities and sexual dispositions my husband and I have." She said giving me a small smile.
"What do you mean?" I asked. I was surprised to hear my voice was much steadier than I would have expected.
"I mean that my husband liked to beat me and I begged him to." She said simply. "That is until I got pregnant. I had no idea that what we were doing could be harmful to the fetus, but we found out the hard way and I miscarried." She said rolling her shoulders back. "After that we decided on a different course of action. Damian would find pretty little brunettes and beat them and I'd watch." Her tone held no remorse, nothing but the straightforwardness that came from stating facts. It chilled me to the bone. "We were quite happy with that arrangement and the people we fell in with were more than happy to supply us with as many girls as we needed. It worked wonderfully for years." She said smiling softly.
I felt the need to ask, though I knew I didn't want to know the answer. "What changed?" I asked. Suzan shrugged and looked down at her lap.
"I had a baby girl." She said quietly. "Suddenly the world we lived in didn't seem so wonderful. I didn't want to raise a little girl in that environment." Her tone finally held some notes of remorse and I could feel a chill run through me. I didn't like where this was going. "By then Damian was practically running Chicago. He'd worked his way to the top and he worked damn hard to stay there. There wasn't a single thing I could have said to him to convince him to step away from it all." She said pouring us more tea. I couldn't recall drinking any yet my cup was empty. "So I decided to keep Chelsea at arm's length. I sent her to boarding schools around the world, kept her up with the finest things in life." She said frowning. "About three years ago, she came home from school. She was seventeen, about to be eighteen and she came home at the worst possible moment. It was to surprise Damian and me. We'd never encourage surprises before. In fact, we'd always made certain to make sure she kept us informed of her schedule. We couldn't chance her running into anything." She shrugged lightly and looked down at her heavily jeweled ring finger on her left hand. The massive diamond glittered and shone proudly on her finger and she twisted it around a moment before curling her hands. "She didn't walk into anything sexual, thank god. It was a deal that had gone south. Damian was dealing with some new thug who thought he could get away with setting his own rules. They were meeting when Chelsea got home. No one knew she was there and when the gun shot fired at the door from one of the thug's men, no one thought she'd be behind it." Her words were quiet, and there was so much emotion laced in them it was difficult to listen. I felt my stomach convulse at the thought of losing a child like that. No, no I couldn't think about it. "Ever since I had to bury my seventeen year old daughter, I've had enough. Damian won't stop what he's doing, not on his own. He's too stubborn and proud to step down. I need your help to take him out. Your husband has enough power to make that happen." She said giving me a pointed look. I felt my head start to spin.
"You want me to tell my husband to have your husband killed?" I asked slowly. She sighed.
"I'd prefer if Damian stayed alive. I do love him very much and I'd like to grow even older with him. But I'm prepared to lose him if that should be the case." She confirmed with a nod. I just stared at her in shock.
"Why can't you do it?" I asked finally. She sighed.
"There are certain, obstacles, preventing me from doing it myself." She said cryptically. I glared at her. "That though, is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what I'm offering in return."
Her words caught my interest, though I hated that they did. "And what is that?" I asked looking at her evenly. She gave me a small smile.
"I will guarantee the safety of your children and even give you an opportunity to pick up where Damian and I have left off in the business should you like." I shook my head vehemently and she nodded. "I thought as much. Very well, then I will help you bury it. In essence Ana, I can make this all go away and never come back." She said quietly. I stared at her and let her words roll around in my head.
"And what about Christian?" I asked finally. Suzan gave me a small tight smile.
"It may be too late for dear Christian Ana, but I'll see what I can do."
Her words frightened me. What did she know that I didn't? What was Christian doing? My mind raced to the darkest corners it could come up with and I shivered. No. Christian wouldn't sink to Black's level. Would he?
"I'm scared." Ella whimpered into my side. I hugged her tighter and felt her cling to my shirt.
"We're going to be okay." I said softly. I'd been saying the same thing since we got here and now the words were starting to sound broken even to my ears.
"You keep saying that." Phoebe pointed out. I looked over at her and shrugged lightly.
"Because it's true." I said. She bit her lip and looked away from me. She looked like mom when she did that, especially lately.
"What if mommy or daddy are hurt?" Ella asked. I turned my attention down to her and gave her a small smile.
"Mom and dad are really tough people. I'm sure they're fine." I said trying to comfort her as much as I could when I myself was just as worried and scared. We'd been here too long, and we hadn't seen mom in almost six hours, which stressed me out the most. Knowing she was here, but not being able to make sure she was okay? Torture.
At least I had been placed in a room with the girls. I would have been out of my fucking mind if I'd been isolated.
"I wish we could see her." Ella continued. I nodded and brought her even closer to me. Phoebe, who had been pacing, sighed and flopped on the low sofa next to us.
We sat in silence until Ella eventually drifted to sleep. I picked her up and carried her over to the king sized bed, sliding her in carefully before kissing her forehead and returning to sit next to Phoebe. My sister looked at me and her big gray eyes looked petrified. The look pierced my heart and I had to clench my fists not to get up and start tearing into anyone who made her look that scared.
"I'm scared for daddy." She whispered. "What if he doesn't know where we are? You know how he gets when we're late home from school." She whispered, drawing her knees to her chest.
"I know." I said quietly. I didn't have words to comfort my sister and I hated that. She rested her head on her knees and I could see tears form in her eyes. I wound an arm around her shoulders and she leaned into me.
What did Black want?
From what I'd been able to gather from conversations he had had in front or near us, he wanted my dad to come into the family business so to speak. If he wanted dad, then he'd probably want one of us as well, just to keep the legacy running. I looked at my two little sisters and shook my head. I wouldn't let that sort of world touch them. I didn't know exactly what it was that Black did, but I knew that it wasn't legal and wasn't good.
I couldn't let my little sisters get mixed up in that. I knew what I had to do and that helped focus me, give direction.
"Teddy." Phoebe whispered, pulling me out of my thoughts.
"Hm?" I asked.
"Promise me something."
I looked down at her curiously. "What?"
She looked at me and bit her lip before continuing. "Promise me you won't sacrifice yourself in anyway for us. We need you." She whispered. It was as if she'd been able to read my thoughts. My heart contracted painfully and I had to look away from her big gray eyes.
"I'm going to do what I need to to keep you two safe." I said slowly. Phoebe shook her head.
"We'd both rather have you around than be completely safe." She whispered against my shoulder. I didn't respond. How could I? I had to keep my sisters safe and I would pay whatever price to do so.
Eventually Phoebe fell asleep and I picked her up, carrying her to the other side of the bed and sliding her in. When both the girls were tucked in, I stood up and strode across the room to the door. I knocked twice and a slot opened up at eye level. One of the guards stared at me in annoyance.
"I want to speak to Black. Tell him I want to make a deal."
"I've learned a lot about Black while I've been running from him." Katarina said looking at me across the dining table. We'd sat down to eat after I'd calmed down enough from the phone call with Ana to stop breaking things. Katarina had suggested food and I honestly didn't want to fucking eat anything, but I knew I had to keep up my strength, so I complied.
"Like?" I prompted impatiently.
"Like his enemies and his weaknesses." She said arching a brow at me.
"Why haven't you brought this up before?" I snapped.
"Because we weren't playing offense then. We were observing. I didn't want to tempt you to jump into a storm that might have passed you by." She said giving me a pointed look. I sat back and didn't say anything. She was right. I would have done that.
"What have you got?" I asked. Katarina nodded and wiped her mouth with a napkin before speaking.
"Black is losing power. Newer, younger gangs are rising up and they are over powering him. This is his last ditch attempt at regaining power. No one would dare go up against him if he had you on his team." She explained. I grit my teeth but nodded. "I think we need to appeal to his competition. Use them to take him out." She said quietly.
"What about my family?" I asked immediately. Katarina smiled.
"Black won't hurt them as long as he thinks you'll play along." She said. I frowned.
"So you want me to double play the biggest and most powerful crime lords in Chicago?" I asked her. She shrugged.
"I think it's the only way to get your family back." She said slowly. I thought it over a moment before nodding.
"You're probably right. Okay who is it that we'll be reaching out to?" I asked. Katarina produced a small black book from her coat pocket.
"The most prominent threat to Black right now is Davis Clark. He's been a steady threat to Black for some time, but he either has something of Black's or has damn good security because Black hasn't even attempted a move on him." She said flipping through the pages. "We'll start with him."
I nodded. "Can you arrange this?" I asked. She nodded.
"I'll have him on a plane to Seattle by morning." She promised.
This was a side of Katarina I'd not yet seen. While she was always driven and focused, now she appeared to be thrilled at the idea of juggling with knives. I recognized it as the attitude of a thrill seeker, which is something I never would have thought she was. As I watched her pull out her phone and pick up her book to make a call, a small sinking warning told me to look be careful of that behavior. Too often I'd seen it escalate out of hand and turn into a detriment. I really hoped that this wouldn't be the case for us.
I'm so sorry this is so delayed. It's been madness in the house trying to prepare for Christmas. Here it is for all you lovelies, though I'm not sure too many of you are going to like where this leaves off. I hope I'll be able to post soon!